LG

  • Amazon will remove ads from the lock screens of phones from Amazon’s Exclusive Phones program on Wednesday.
  • The phones are usually discounted in exchange for ads to be shown on a user’s lockscreen.
  • Future phones will not come with lock screen Amazon ads, either.
  • Phones purchased through the program still come pre-loaded with Amazon apps.

 

Amazon announced on Tuesday that it will remove the ads from the discounted Android phones on its Amazon Prime Exclusive Phones program on Wednesday.

Currently, Android phones on the Amazon Prime Exclusive Phones program display Amazon deals and offers on their lock screens. In exchange, customers get a decent discount on Android phones from well-known manufacturers, provided you’re a member of the $99/year Amazon Prime program.

Discounts are always great, but it’s a tradeoff that some weren’t willing to make.

Previously, getting a phone through the program meant you couldn’t customize the background wallpaper of the lock screen. Amazon also said that removing the ads from the lock screen will allow for these phones to support features like facial recognition and fingerprint scanners.

LG

Certain phones, like the LG G6+, are only available on Amazon’s Exclusive Phone program. Others, like the Moto G5 Plus and Moto E4 are available from Motorola’s online store. Essentially, it means that Amazon Prime members can now buy certain Android phones for a lower cost than almost anywhere else, without the compromise of dealing with Amazon ads on their lock screens.

For example, the Moto G5 Plus costs $200 on Amazon’s program, whereas it costs $230 from Motorola’s site. And the $500 LG G6+, an Amazon exclusive, is a larger version of the LG G6, which costs $600 or more.

Still, the phones will continue to come pre-loaded with Amazon apps, so you’re still buying into the retailer’s ecosystem.

As of Tuesday, you have a pretty decent choice of phones from the Amazon Exclusive Phones program. With that said, newer phones models from companies like LG and Moto are expected to be released soon, so it may be wiser to wait for the newer models when they arrive on the Amazon Exclusive Phone program.

Amazon confirmed to Business Insider that future models on Amazon’s Exclusive Phone program won’t come with the Amazon ad lock screens, and they’ll still sell at a similar level of discount to the phones currently available on the program.

You can’t buy an ethical smartphone today

My friend explained she wanted to trust that companies are “not being dicks in relation to materials, processes, supply chain, working standards and the ability to repair.” “Most people aren’t supply-chain experts, so there’ll be all sorts of impacts we’re not in a position to know about.” Her approach generally follows the tenets of ethical consumerism, the practice of buying products which are “ethically produced, and / or not harmful to the environment, or society.”

“[Smartphones have] so many components from different countries, which all have their own challenges regarding fairness.”

By voting with your wallet, it’s thought that consumers can affect systemic improvement by shopping with companies that do the right thing. Throughout the 1990s, companies like Nike were at the center of a movement tasked with reducing sweatshop labor in the fashion industry.

Critics of the practice point out that, even decades later, labor abuses still occur at Nike factories, and its former CEO has used his fortune to fight political causes designed to improve people’s quality of life. Either way, it’s hard to buy ethically because there are so many issues to take into account when buying any product.

Ensuring your food or clothes are ethical is difficult, but nothing compared to consumer electronics. “It’s one of the most globalized products you can imagine.” Fabian Huhne is Fairphone’s public engagement manager and press officer. “[Smartphones have] so many components from different countries, which all have their own challenges regarding fairness.”

Devices vary, but your average smartphone may use more than 60 different metals. Many of them are rare earth metals, so-called because they’re available in smaller quantities than many other metals, if not genuinely rare.

Often, these substances are found in conflict zones, such as the Democratic Republic of Congo. Both there and in the surrounding region, the proceeds from mining, which often uses child and/or slave labor, have been used to finance its brutal civil war. Since 2014, the US Dodd-Frank Act has stipulated that a company must disclose if its products use materials from conflict zones.

Greenpeace’s Gary Cook, who analyzes the IT sector for the NGO, agrees that supply chains are spectacularly complex. He’s also seen that some companies are “recognizing they have to start taking control of their supply chain.” This may have been prompted by press coverage, such as the recent revelations from Apple supplier Catcher Technology, and that when such stories break, they have “brand implications” which can harm a company’s brand and reputation.

Labor issues are often at the heart of the most controversial stories concerning the technology industry. In January, Bloomberg exposed working conditions at the Catcher Technology Company factory in China, which makes iPhone casings. It revealed that some workers had to stand for 10 hours a day in a noxious, potentially toxic, environment without proper safety equipment.

This also included some laborers working without earplugs in rooms where the noise levels reached 80 decibels. Employees operating machines where coolant and metallic particles were flying reportedly lacked access to goggles. Even worse, the workers had to sleep in unclean dormitories that lacked hot water and basic washing facilities.

Apple denied the charges, telling Bloomberg that it had not found evidence of improper practices, but that it would also send an additional team of auditors to examine the complex for violations. An unnamed spokesperson said the company “remains dedicated to doing all [it] can to protect the workers in [its] supply chain.” It’s not the first (second, or third) time that Apple has been singled out with coverage of labor practices in its supply chain. In 2010, a spate of suicides at Foxconn / Hon Hai Precision Industry — Apple’s key manufacturing partner — received international attention.

At the end of last year, Foxconn was accused of illegally employing 17-to-19-year-old students to work overtime to help build the iPhone X. The interns said they were made to work an 11-hour day assembling the flagship device, in violation of Chinese law. Subsequently, Apple and Foxconn admitted to Reuters that a number of students had worked overtime but said that it was voluntary. The iPhone maker sent additional employees to deal with the fallout and ensure rules were being followed and affirmed its commitment to protect its workers.

A 2013 video from China Labor Watch

Apple, with its high profits and strong brand, is often the easiest target for ethics campaigners, but its labor practices are hardly unique. Foxconn, the supplier associated with all these issues, is used as a contract manufacturer by Sony, Nintendo, Amazon, Toshiba, Motorola, Huawei, Dell, HP, Acer, BlackBerry and many more.

If you thought that Samsung may be a better choice, think again. Back in 2016, the company was accused of poisoning its own workers. Around 200 employees have either died or been stricken with serious illness after working on a Samsung production line. These individuals were diagnosed with leukemia, lymphoma and MS, despite being in their late 20s or early 30s. Samsung has denied the accusations, telling BBC News that the safety of its workers is its highest priority, but the company has since allowed inspectors inside its facilities. In addition, one of the employees who passed away was awarded compensation by a South Korean appeals court.

China Labor Watch, a non-profit that examines working conditions, has also found instances of child labor on Samsung lines. In 2012, a supplier was found employing children as young as 14 — who had their pay docked when they were unable to work due to an injury. The company has since outlined a code of conduct for its supplier responsibility practices, which includes a commitment to banning child labor, paying a minimum wage and a ban on inhumane treatment. In 2015, China Labor Watch was still finding failings in facilities used by Samsung to produce its devices.

If you’re on the hunt for a smartphone that isn’t produced with the sort of intensive labor that most of us would wince at, chances are you’re not going to be satisfied. Even smaller companies, like Fairphone, with its public commitment to offering a better deal, struggle with the systemic problems of the industry. Its handset is manufactured in Shenzhen, but as Huhne explains, “if you want to change the industry, you have to go where it is.” He says suppliers are often surprised when Fairphone reps ask how they could improve working conditions in partnership.

Fairphone 2 (Jamie Rigg / Engadget)

The work of NGOs like Greenpeace, China Labor Watch and others are, in Huhne’s mind, “essential.” He feels it’s important for companies to work with them, since they’re already “on the ground” in some of these crucial regions. There’s also the issue of where any organization chooses to focus its priorities: What’s more important, conflict materials, sustainability or labor issues? “Just looking at how complex and vast international supply chains are, we had to make a decision on where to focus first.”

Smartphones, and consumer technology more generally, don’t just have the potential to harm the people building them. There is also the enormous environmental damage caused in the handsets’ production, through resource extraction, intensive manufacturing and transport. “If you’re wanting to buy a[n ethical] phone right now, your choices are limited,” says Greenpeace’s Gary Cook, “and Fairphone has done the most in terms of current manufacturers.”

The organization found there’s plenty of environmental blood that can be laid at the door of the smartphone. In the last decade, production of the devices has consumed nearly 968TWh, enough to power India for a year. In 2017, smartphones, and related products, made 50 metric tons of e-waste — discarded smart devices and their accessories — and it’s only going to get worse.

Recently, Greenpeace launched a campaign to expose Samsung’s use of coal-fired power plants. The organization believes that the company, “despite all its PR talk,” only uses one percent renewable energy. It’s a comparison that makes Apple seem positively virtuous, given its longstanding commitment to reach 100 percent renewables.

The NGO also took Samsung to task in the wake of the Galaxy Note 7 crisis, in which faulty batteries caused the devices to explode. If the Note 7 hadn’t been built as a wholly-integrated device, but instead came with removable batteries, the cost to resolve the problem would have been significantly smaller. Integrated batteries are often the part that fails first, prompting phone users to opt for an upgrade when a replacement would work just as well. Failure to address this is a lesson that Apple is learning right now, to its chagrin.

Repairability and modularity can help users increase a device’s lifespan, save money and preserve precious resources. But it’s not easy to do, and often people ditch a perfectly-functional phone because of a single failing component. Not to mention that it plays into the gripes surrounding “planned obsolescence,” and the theory that companies deliberately build devices that break after two years.

Mark Schaffer formerly managed environmental programs at Dell. He was responsible for pushing the company to adopt EPEAT (Electronic Product Environmental Assessment Tool) standards. Now, he runs an independent consultancy, Shaffer Environmental, and last year, penned a report on environmental standards for Repair.org. Schaffer believes that US electronics standards, which are meant to push manufacturers to do better, have now failed.

 

Huawei Mate 10 Pro flagship Android smartphone now available for pre-order

Despite foolish actions by some US cellular carriers caused by political pressure, the Huawei Mate 10 Pro Android smartphone is still coming to the USA. If you aren’t familiar with the controversy, both AT&T and Verizon have refused to carry this device because xenophobic politicians are concerned about Huawei being a Chinese company. Tons of products for sale in the USA are made in China, so it is odd that Huawei is being singled out for alleged espionage. Of course, with the USA’s current president, all logic has seemingly gone out the window.

Huawei has wisely decided to just go the unlocked route, meaning the Mate 10 Pro will work on T-Mobile, AT&T, and other GSM carriers in the USA — Verizon and Sprint are not compatible. If you want to buy this flagship Android smartphone, you can pre-order starting today. Quite frankly, Huawei makes absolutely gorgeous products that are high-quality, so I would recommend that you do.

ALSO READ: Huawei sells more smartphones than Apple

“Available in Midnight Blue and Titanium Grey now, and Mocha Brown soon; the HUAWEI Mate 10 Pro’s stunning design is matched only by its performance. Featuring the world’s first AI-enhanced processor with a dedicated Neural Network Processing Unit (NPU) in a smartphone, the HUAWEI Mate 10 Pro achieves new breakthroughs in computing capacity to deliver up to 25 times better performance and up to 50 times greater energy efficiency for AI-related tasks,” says Huawei.

ALSO READ: Huawei Mate 10 Pro flagship Android smartphone finally coming to USA

The company further says, “Partnering with renowned camera maker Leica, Huawei co-engineered the HUAWEI Mate 10 Pro’s dual camera with AI capabilities that enables users to take professional quality photos without having to adjust the camera settings. The camera’s computer vision technology supports real-time scene and object recognition to automatically choose and adjust camera settings to capture the best photos possible.”

ALSO READ: Huawei will preload Android Messages on its Android smartphones

You can pre-order the Huawei Mate 10 Pro immediately from several popular retailers, such as Amazon, BestBuy, and Newegg. Quite frankly, if there was anything meaningful to the Huawei controversy, these top-tier stores would not be carrying it.

To sweeten the deal, anyone that pre-orders the Mate 10 Pro before the February 18 launch date will receive a $150 gift card. That is a really great bonus offer that makes the $799 much more reasonable. Keep in mind, the card can only be used at the store from which you pre-order, so choose wisely. To make things easy, you can simply click the below links.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *